The Science of Thermography
What is thermography?
Digital Infrared Thermal Imaging (DITI) or thermography is an infrared technology that visualizes and measures vascular patterns (blood flow*) and heat activities (inflammation*) in the body. A thermogram is a totally non-invasive, radiation-free, painless procedure to detect and monitor a number of diseases and physical injuries by showing the thermal abnormalities in the body.
*Your vascular system is your body’s network of blood vessels including arteries and veins. The inflammation triggered by oxidative stress is the cause of many chronic diseases.
What thermography does:
Thermography takes thermal images (camera pictures) of the body to aid in the detection of circulation, inflammation, pain, vascularity and functional patterns.
How thermography works:
Our state-of-the-art thermography screenings use ultra-sensitive infrared cameras and sophisticated computers to detect, analyze, and produce high-resolution diagnostic images of these temperature and vascular patterns over time.
First, thermography visualizes the temperature symmetry of each area. The body is normally thermally symmetrical (meaning left and right side should be at about the same temperature). Second, it looks for blood flow patterns, activity and inflammation patterns, which are conducive to early stage disease.
Thermography doesn’t detect or diagnose cancer. It reflects physiologic change that may be associated with cancer.
What allows thermography to detect these subtle changes in the body?
It does so because a thermal image correlates with the surface temperature of the skin only. The skin is the largest organ in our body. It automatically regulates the micro dermal circulation (blood flow in the superficial layers of the skin) communicated through our autonomic nervous system*. Skin temperature is different all over the body and the varying thermal patterns are unique for every individual, just like a fingerprint. Additionally, this “fingerprint” is surprisingly stable and only a developing pathology or problem changes the pattern.
*The autonomic nervous system is the part of the nervous system responsible for control of the bodily functions not consciously directed, such as breathing, digestive processes, and the heart rate.
Thermography is a very sensitive, reliable means of graphically mapping and displaying skin temperature. It is unique in its capability to show physiological change (even the most subtle) and metabolic processes. A thermogram can show a combined effect of the autonomic nervous system and the vascular system, down to capillary (minute blood vessel) dysfunctions. The effects of these changes show as asymmetries in temperature
distribution on the surface of the body. The same goes for pain. Thermography can graphically display the very subjective feeling of pain by objectively displaying the changes in skin surface temperature that accompany states of pain.
How is a thermogram different from a mammogram?
It’s important to understand that a thermogram and a mammogram are two different tests, produced in different ways that show completely different things. Breast thermography and mammography are complementary procedures; one does not replace the other.
A mammogram is an X-ray picture of the breast. A test of anatomy (structure). It uses radiation and breast compression to detect a mass. A mammogram first sees that mass when it’s one centimeter in size (about five- sixteenths of an inch) and about a billion cells have already developed.
A thermogram has no radiation, no compression and is non-invasive. It is a test of physiology (function). Thermography can detect physiological changes (i.e., blood flow and inflammation) when it is still on a cellular level, years before it’s visible on a mammogram.
Only thermography has the ability to detect even the most subtle of changes over time. As noted by Dr. Ben Johnson, “Probably 8-10 years before there was a tumor, there were cancer cells starting to grow. Two cells, four cells, 16 cells, 144 cells, etc… When you get to one billion cells, the cancer has already eroded into the lymphatic system and the venous system, and it’s shedding cancer cells all through the body.”
That being said, if you’ve already got a lump, you want a test of anatomy. Mammograms, ultrasounds, MRI, and CT are all tests of anatomy. A bit more about ultrasound. Again, thermography is monitoring the physiological or “functional” activity of the body, (i.e., organs, fluids, tissues). Understand that no breast test can boast 100% accuracy. Cancer detection, however, can be as high as 97-98% in women who take advantage of a multi-modal approach.
Dr Thomas Hudson summarizes it best. “In short, thermography is a way to monitor breast health, not just a way to detect breast cancer…Thermography offers a woman the chance to become aware of worrisome physiological changes before there is a diagnosable cancer…Thermography is a risk marker—one that is specific to your physiology, not your sister’s or your aunt’s.”
Cancer in the early stage:
Cancer at its earliest, cellular stages needs to set up its own blood supply in order to continue to grow. It’s called angiogenesis, which is a fancy way of saying new blood vessel growth to a developing tumor to feed and grow it. “Angiogenesis is present in more than 90% of non-palpable tumors and 100% of palpable lesions.” –Dr. Veronique Desaulniers
When there are only a few cells it is not detectable on a mammogram. However, thermography has the capability to see these blood vessels at their earliest, forming and providing abnormal cells with their own blood supply. This movement of blood, this new blood activity, establishes heat patterns. Thermography visualizes and measures (and tracks over time) this heat activity and the vascular patterns.
Early Detection and Prevention:
We like to refer to thermography as a health screening or risk assessment screening simply because these screenings allow you to be forewarned that you may be at a higher risk for a particular disease or dysfunction. Further, the screenings allow you the time to discover what is driving that higher
risk (i.e., diet*, lifestyle, hormones, emotions, chemicals and other variables) and give you the opportunity to make changes that can lower your risk. Future screenings are your tool to monitor the abnormal patterns of regression or progression.
*It’s becoming increasingly clear that diet is the biggest factor in the chronic conditions that we face today. Dozens of independent scientists offer proof that GMO’s (genetically modified organisms, introduced in the 1990’s) are the most radical change in our food supply and pose one of the greatest risks to our health. So many people have benefitted from eliminating GMO’s and switching to an organic diet.
As you can see, just about everyone can benefit from thermography. Why? Because inflammation in your body is a precursor to all types of disease and dysfunction, and thermography provides early detection of inflammatory processes. Thus, it is a powerful tool for prevention. Thermography may also be safely used as preventative screening and/or an adjunctive test to other diagnostics, treatment and therapy monitoring for all sorts of conditions, including arthritis, back/neck pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, heart/breast/lung disease, headache/sinus issues, stress fractures and more.
Historical Roots of Thermography
The first recorded use of thermobiological diagnostics can be found in the writings of Hippocrates around 480 B.C. A mud slurry spread over the patient was observed for areas that would dry first and was thought to indicate underlying organ pathology. Since this time, continued research and clinical observations proved that certain temperatures related to the human body were indeed indicative of normal and abnormal physiologic processes.
Military research into infrared monitoring systems for night time troop movements ushered in a new era in thermal diagnostics. Then, in 1957, the first use of diagnostic thermography came when R. Lawson discovered that the skin temperature over a cancer in the breast was higher than that of normal tissue.
The Department of Health Education and Welfare released a position paper in 1972 in which the director, Thomas Tiernery, wrote, “The medical consultants indicate that thermography, in its present state of development, is beyond the experimental state as a diagnostic procedure in the following 4 areas: 1) Pathology of the female breast…”.
On January 29, 1982, the FDA published its approval and classification of thermography as an adjunctive diagnostic screening procedure for the detection of breast cancer.
Breast thermography has undergone extensive research since the late 1950s.
- Over 800 peer-reviewed studies on breast thermography exist in the index-medicus literature.
- In this database, well over 300,000 women have been included as study participants.
- The numbers of participants in many studies are very large — 10K, 37K, 60K, 85K…
- Some of these studies have followed patients up to 12 years.
- Breast thermography has an average sensitivity and specificity of 90%.
- An abnormal thermogram is 10 times more significant as a future risk indicator for breast cancer than a first order family history of the disease.
- Breast thermography has the ability to detect the first signs that a cancer may be forming up to 10 years
before any other procedure can detect it.
- A persistent abnormal thermogram carries with it a 22x higher risk of future breast cancer.
- An abnormal infrared image is the single most important marker of high risk for developing breast cancer.
- Strict standardized interpretation protocols have been established for over 15 years.
- Extensive clinical trials have shown that breast thermography significantly augments the long-term survival rates of its recipients by as much as 61%.
- When used as part of a multimodal approach (clinical examination + mammography + thermography) 95% of early stage cancers will be detected.
Articles & Press
Newest Technology for Early Disease Detection
Healthy Body Thermography offers early stage detection of breast disease and other full-body dysfunction.
Daily Hampshire Gazette
In living color: Thermography screenings
Client Jaimee Roncone’s moving story of the valuable role thermography played in her breast cancer healing journey.
South Jersey Magazine
A Father’s Legacy, An Incredible Technology
Healthy Body Thermography uses cutting-edge technology for early detection of disease.
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Easy to schedule, and knowledgeable technician– a perfectionist. Comfortable and private environment with friendly staff all around. Quick and easy to get results and therefore faster peace of mind. Thermography is the best way to know what is going on in your body.
As in my first visit, it was a very short wait time and I was treated with utmost respect. All of my questions were answered in a pleasant manner. I was very comfortable and relaxed in this facility. I look forward to my next visit.
Had a very positive first time screening with Leslie! The atmosphere was pleasant, private, professional and very friendly! I have an easy feeling for the next time I need to return! Thanks so much Leslie!
Technician was very pleasant, caring and knowledgeable. The technique used was not invasive or painful opposed to having a mammogram , which can be painful.
This is the easiest test you will ever do. I am very happy with my experience and will return every year!!
This is SO much better than radiation mammography. This process is quick, comfortable, no health risks. What a relief! Your doctor may be suspicious–they need to stop being fearful and catch up to progress in women’s health. I plan to do a follow-up scan soon.
I received my results promptly (within a couple of days), and the report was comprehensive. Dale was professional, knowledgeable, as well as warm, making me feel comfortable at the appointment. I highly recommend Healthy Body Thermography.
This is a great way to keep our breasts healthy. I really like Healthy Body Thermography. They are warm friendly folks. You won’t be disappointed. Thermographies don’t squish your breasts and don’t use radiation. Safest way to monitor breast health!
The service was quick, painless and the technician was very informative. I’ll be back and will recommend to others.
I’m very grateful I did this thermography for myself. Knowing physicians review the results left me very secure. Great appointment app being easy to use. And wonderful technician. Thank you.